Doing the Right Thing Can Be Healthy

Doing the Right Thing Can Be Healthy

© GLOW IMAGES Models used for illustrative purposes

by Don Ingwerson

Most of us have very efficient ways of compartmentalizing aspects of our life. There’s a time for community service, spending time with the family, recreation, vacations, exercise, and fixing things around the house. These plans make us feel like we’re propelling ourselves forward in a balanced manner – keeping peace with our family members and showing attention to everything that seems important in our lives.

But wouldn’t it be fantastic if all these tasks had a thread running through them that gave us a greater sense of inner peace and satisfaction? In other words, a life that blessed others in such a way that it gives evidence of a spiritual power within. In this vast country of ours, bigger always seems better. And yet, how wonderful it would be if I didn’t feel that the faster I run the further behind I get. Many characteristics that surmount the pressures of bigness or busyness come from very small and seemingly unimportant deeds. These small, insignificant deeds affect daily happiness, create joy, reduce stress, promote satisfaction, and lay a solid foundation for the more lasting qualities that point to the self we desire. This past week my daughter shared with me just such an account. It had that thread I mentioned earlier.

My daughter’s management team at her shopping center has been working to create a memorable experience that shows genuine care and appreciation for each guest so that they will spread the word of their excellent service. One example of this excellent service was when a call was received from a customer who had visited the shopping center the night before. This woman shared how she had arrived home and realized that she had left her Chanel handbag and its contents hanging on the back of a public restroom door. Because someone very dear to her had given the handbag to her, it held great sentimental value.

When she realized she had left it, she was absolutely distraught. She called the concierge an hour after she had left the restroom and was told that her handbag had already been turned in and was waiting for her. At this point, she broke into tears of gratitude. She didn’t even ask what was inside, as she assumed the contents had been emptied. When she arrived to pick it up, she was surprised and delighted to find her cash and credit cards were still inside. This woman then asked who had found her bag and was told it was a member of the housekeeping staff. She was able to thank the staff member and tried to give her a nice tip. The woman who had found the purse explained that she loved helping people and was very happy to have the opportunity to return it to its owner.

The thread of honesty and trust running through the actions of each team member was the foundation for service in this situation. Although this team was not set up for anything other than customer service, health also thrives on these same qualities.

According to Dr. Andrew Weil in Spontaneous Happiness, these same elements of goodness, gratitude, happiness, joy, and satisfaction are very important to the health of individuals.

This story is interesting to me, not because I have been searching for ways to reach customer service goals, but because I have been identifying characteristics that are health giving. In one act, the housekeeping staff member provided an example of what Moses was talking about in the 10 Commandments, Jesus with the Beatitudes, and Mary Baker Eddy when she described man as being a reflection of God as Truth, Principle, and Love.

The shopping center team goals clearly accomplished the external values in this example of providing a shopping center where people cared. Yet it was the intrinsic values of satisfaction, honesty, and trust that activated the thread of those internal values of the individual. Dr. Weil comments, “the scientific evidence of the positive effects on health from feelings of satisfaction and expressions of gratitude is really stunning.”

Article previously published February 13, 2013 and first published in Blogcritics.

Probing the Mental Causes of Obesity

Probing the Mental Causes of Obesity

© GLOW IMAGES Model used for illustrative purposes

A guest post written by Thomas Mitchinson, legislative liaison and media spokesman for Christian Science in Illinois

“Fear, anxiety, and mental overload are causes for obesity in human beings,” according to Professor Dr. BM Hegde.  He called these emotions “mental flab that kills.”

In a recent blog he wrote, “Obesity, increase in body weight disproportionate to the height with excess fatty deposits under the skin, has become a menace to society, especially in the affluent West.”  He continued, “It has reached its zenith in the US, where almost every person seems to be obese.  It has become a good money-spinner for the pharmaceutical, technology, and the food industries.”

But then he talked further about the mental causes of obesity.  He wrote, “Many of us overeat when we are depressed and/or not happy.”  How many of us grab a candy bar when frustrated?  Or stop for fast food when under pressure?  Hedge gave this amazing sentence, “It is the mental obesity that manifests as physical obesity.”

Stress, pressure, loneliness, anger, frustration, emptiness, and fear are all elements of “mental flab.”  No matter how much we exercise or diet, if we don’t address these emotions, we are not treating the root cause of the overweight.

He commented that mental obesity is the inner hunger for spiritual satisfaction that is in many cases at the root of physical obesity.  It follows that this hunger includes the desire for attention, love, companionship, acceptance, and meaning in life.

Professor Hedge quoted Christian Science founder, Mary Baker Eddy, in his article.  Eddy wrote to her Church in 1902, “Happiness consists in being and in doing good; only what God gives, and what we give ourselves and others through His tenure, confers happiness: conscious worth satisfies the hungry heart, and nothing else can.”

The happiness that fills and satisfies us does not come from another.  It comes from realizing one’s relationship to God.  As one understands the unconditional, always present love of God for each of us, it satisfies the “hungry heart” which begs for some kind of recognition.  This love quiets fear, anxiety, frustration, stress, and every emotion that would lead to overeating, binging, or even starving oneself.

Isn’t it the lack of feeling loved that is often behind a “hungry heart?”  One may lack a sense of direction, or feel overwhelmed by circumstances out of control.  In such cases, the omnipotence of divine Love is once again part of the solution.  One can overcome the fear of being alone or unappreciated by realizing that “Love inspires, illumines, designates and leads the way” (from Eddy’s book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 454) for each of us – right out of the meaninglessness of existence into a meaningful life.

We can feast on God’s love.  We can share that feasting with others, and have our hungry hearts satisfied.  Integrative medicine expert, Dr. Andrew Weil, often speaks of “infectious happiness.” When we share our love with others or volunteer for some group, it fills not only their “hungry hearts,” but ours also.

So stop binging on food, and instead feast on giving – on giving love, attention, care, a listening ear, a smile – to others.  You are preparing a very low-calorie meal that blesses yourself and those you love.

Link to Mitchinson’s blog


Are Attitudes and Health Linked?

Are Attitudes and Health Linked?

Models used for illustrative purposes

by Don Ingwerson

Recently my wife and I ended a Disneyland visit without our usual family around us – and I can’t remember that ever happening before. Because we weren’t preoccupied with entertaining the kids, we could relax and observe everyone. Even though there were crushing shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, I noticed something interesting. There was no foul language, and no real pushing or shoving. When bumping did occur, there was an immediate apology. Although there was excitement in the air, people treated each other with respect.

Later that evening, I turned on the TV and heard lots of conflict, hate, and violence. It got me thinking about attitudes and behavior. What made the difference between my time at Disneyland and what was being shown on TV? This leads me to ask: Where are our present attitudes taking us socially, physically, and mentally? This dichotomy of behavior encouraged me to look at a few studies. I was impressed by how happy and joyous I felt at Disneyland, and thought about how attitude and environment affect us.

In a recent lecture, noted expert in integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil, described the term “infectious happiness” as an emotion that can spread from person to person. Weil said, “that there is no question that who you choose to associate with can raise or lower your spirits, make you happy or sad, calm or anxious, comfortable or uncomfortable.” These transferable qualities can be quantified. A study published in the British Medical Journal, found that a person who lives less than ½ mile from a happy friend has a 42% greater chance of being happy. This same infectious happiness can ripple through groups and organizations, having a profound effect.

So even in a theme park where people are shoulder to shoulder and baby strollers are skinning ankles, people exemplify a happiness and tolerance not exhibited by individuals on TV. As someone who practices prayer-based healing, I’ve found the qualities expressed by the people at Disneyland to be the same qualities which allow me to feel happy and healthy; while I’ve found the negative qualities like those I saw on TV to be toxic, creating feelings of frustration, anger, and tension.

How can these types of conflicting, angry thoughts affect people physically and mentally? According to Monitor on Psychology staff writer Deborah Smith in “Angry thoughts, at-risk hearts,” “Research findings indicate a clear pattern — being an angry or hostile person is bad for your heart.” Ms. Smith goes on to cite several studies that prove the point.

What is the antidote for this poisonous toxin that not only affects attitudes but health? Certainly any antidote needs to affect the inner self. For me, it would be prayer, and the premise that health is enhanced through prayer is supported by many studies. The comprehensive National Prayer in Medicine Survey found that across multiple studies and polls most Americans report a belief in a higher power (90-96%). The 2006 World Values Survey also showed the importance of prayer with a report that 84% of Americans pray. Among those who pray, the belief that prayers are answered is also high.

According to the many research studies, there appears to be little doubt that attitudes and behavior affect health, and many individuals have found prayer to be a means of improving both of them. Future studies will help us determine the real value of this knowledge.

Article previously published April 2, 2012 and first published in Blogcritics